How can Google tell if your website is ugly? I’ll tell you.

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August 18, 2013
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How can Google tell if your website is ugly? I’ll tell you.

Google Search results picture

A lot of people think if they have a website that is packed with content and keywords and video and all the things that improve Google search ranking, their site will perform well.

That used to be true.

As it turns out, if your site is ugly or mobile-UNfriendly,  all your work is for naught.

Ugly websites and Google search ranking

Every minute of every hour of every day, the search engines are sending out their electronic bots to survey the big wide Web. They check the site title, they check the meta description. They check the keyword tags and the links going in and out of the site. They check for spammy-looking stuff — you know, the things that some bad-guy SEO people use to try to trick the little bots.

Sites with lots of fresh content and videos and everything labeled correctly and a good history of legitimate links are feeling good about themselves. They are positively beaming. They are thinking, “Man, I am the best, freshest, most relevant search result ever! Look at me!”

But wait. There’s one more thing those little bots are checking for.

They are checking to see how many real human being clicked on your site from a Google search and then ran screaming back to the search results after one glance at your ugly web site.

Wait, wait. I don’t mean YOUR website is ugly. But I’m sure you have a friend with an ugly web site. Maybe they made this site themselves in 2003 with a do-it-yourself site builder. It happens to the best of us. And it actually didn’t look bad in 2003.

But now it does.

Now it looks skinny and plain. And amateur. The navigation is wonky. The menu is in the wrong place. Things have started to break down. If you try to look at it on a phone, the cool animation is just a blank spot.

Bots are people, too.

It’s easy to think a metatag-hunting robot made entirely of a piece of programming cannot tell if your site is old and ugly. You’re right. It can’t tell by itself. But it can tell if it’s mobile-friendly from the coding. And it can tell if people hate it by watching how long they stay on your site and if they click further into your site or if they have a seizure from the terrible design and go straight back to the search results.

So don’t let your website be ugly. Call in a professional. And these days, it’s not even expensive to get a mobile-responsive design. It’s not like the olden days in 2011 when you had to have an App created just to allow people to use your site on a smartphone. So go ahead and spring for a mobile-responsive site.

Friends don’t let friends have ugly websites. Remember: don’t repulse your visitors. You are repulsing Google, too.